MOSCOW: Around 20 men broke into a Moscow office of the Memorial human rights group late on Thursday and interrupted a public film screening about 1930s famine in Soviet Ukraine by hostile chants, a video from the scene showed.
The attack at Memorial, which has often criticised the Kremlin for human rights abuse and was labelled as a foreign agent by the government, come as Russia cracks down on activists after street protests early this year.
A 2019 film “Mr. Jones" by Polish director Agnieszka Holland was showing at the Memorial office when a group of two dozen young men broke into the building and occupied space between the screen and the audience, forcing the hosts to stop the film.
“The screening is over, please leave," one of the men shouted at viewers, according to a video of the incident filmed by a Memorial employee. Others chanted “fascists!" and “go away!"
The film tells the story of Gareth Jones, the Welsh journalist who was the first to report about the Ukrainian famine of 1932 and 1933. The famine is a sensitive subject for Russia and Ukraine, which is fighting a war against Moscow-backed separatists in its east.
Ukraine declared the famine genocide against its people, a charge Russia rejects.
The men left the Memorial office shortly before police arrived and started questioning management of the organisation, Memorial spokesperson Natalya Petrova said.
“Of course it (the attack) was against Memorial and not the film. The film was just a pretext," she told Reuters by phone.
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